As a big fan of muslim arts I began spending time in the flea market chatting to elderly peddlers selling muslim platters, jugs and other delicately designed antiques. After having met a peddler who specializes in restoration and polishing of silver gold and copper antiques I accepted his invitation to go and visit an old friend and customer of his who is a passionate muslim art collector. The peddler mentioned that he had even sold this man a copper platter that his own father had brought with him half a century ago when coming from Iran.
A large villa with a lush colorful garden encircling its walls welcomed the peddler and myself and lead to an old wooden door. Wondering where this door came from, what culture, time and who were the artisans who made it – it opened widely. The couple living there lead us in, as we engaged in a light conversation. Soon the lady asked if I would like to see the collection and gladly nodding we two began walking slowly on Persian carpets in the dark corridors.
The exquisite platters, ornamented boxes and objects seemed to light up the walls, niches and corners where they lay like a divine chandelier scattered about illuminating the space. After soaking in the beauty of these objects, hearing details about when were they made, sold and collected, we began to return towards the living room. Marveling the Persian rugs the host came closer to me saying: “Let me tell you something.”
“I was raised in an Ashkenazi Jewish family in Tel-Aviv. My Polish and Russian parents had few valuable belongings which consisted of just a few porcelain dishes and one Persian rug. The porcelains were rarely touched and lay in a glass cabinet near the tiny dining area. It was prohibited to touch and definitely use them. The carpet though, extended and covered almost all of the living room floor. It was a small apartment and the carpet, especially as a little girl, seemed huge. I remember the fabulous designs of arabesques and floral shapes extending from one color to another, one shade to the next. Barefoot, I would stand in awe sensing the woven threads and patterns beneath my feet. I would pace this carpet back and forth, step by step, absorbing its celestial beauty.”
“I was raised with one sister with whom I would often argue and quarrel. Once, after the worst fight I recall having with her, we both came to the understanding we would sooner or later need to talk. I hated her. Talking seemed like letting her win. Yet I knew it is just a matter of time till that dreadful conversation will take place. She and my parents had tried to convince me into talking with her, yet I still refused. One evening, after some days of mutual silence she muttered: lets meet in the middle of the carpet. That I could not resist.” The lady, now with wrinkles adorning her face looked down, sighed, as though she were taken once again into the midst of that painful conflict. Elegantly touching the corners of her eyes she peered at me through the thin film of water that covered them.
“Well” she said while welcoming half a smile on her face, “I ended up meeting my sister in the middle of that carpet. It was the only way for us to meet. Despite all these long years that have gone by, I will never forget the steps we each took towards the other and towards the center of that carpet. In that place where the colors burst out and all the intricate arabesques debuted we sat down, spoke, cried and at the very end also forgave each other and our selves.”
“Had it not been for that carpet, who knows for how long we would have not spoken to each other?”
This taught me a great lesson about the places where mediation can happen. The acts of forgiving, unraveling pains and mending torn relationships require unique locations. Esthetics has an essential role in enabling such intimate and brave actions.
*** I invite you to stay tuned for the next posts discussing Persian beauty ideals and their ability to host negotiations and mediation processes